November 24, 2005

A movie and a new policy.

What movie did we watch for Thanksgiving? "Boogie Nights." Appropriate? No. But we just felt like watching it. What a great film!

Checking in on the blog, I face up to the problem of the degradation of the comments caused by an influx of several categories of new readers. I realize I've got to be more vigilant and less tolerant, because the decline in quality is affecting our regular readers. Newcomers are welcome to participate, but I've got to uphold some standards or the comments will lose their value for everyone.

In particular, I'm not going to accept repetitious arguments, abusive language, and overblown accusations -- which seem to have become the style in the last few days. This is my place. I like debate and am ready to read criticism, but what has been going on lately has crossed the line, and I'm adopting a new, more activist form of supervision.

I will delete comments that offend my standards, and I will turn off comments on posts where the conversation is played out to the point where it is attracting too many deletable posts. You're welcome to practice your free speech on your own blogs. I intend to keep a civil dialogue on mine.


Anonymous said...

Yay. This is great. Your blog is the only one where I read the comments, and find them interesting and engaging. I think it's great that you're taking this step to keep them that way.

wildaboutharrie said...

The scene where Mark Wahlberg is trying to become an 80s-style rock star is very haunting and sad.

Aspasia M. said...

I don't understand why you deleted wilaboutharrie's post. Saw a copy of it. She's always very polite.

Meade said...

Weird. It's like I'm on a slow blog to China.

wildaboutharrie said...

I was off topic on the thread, geo, I'd rather let that go.

I love Boogie Nights, I'd like to post about it here. It really humanizes the porn industry in a sad, sweet way. The long shot in the beginning was fantastic. And the line dance also is a favorite scene of mine.

Ann Althouse said...

At one point, I was just trying to trim back the end of a thread. Some not-so-bad individual posts might have gotten lumped together with the ones that were really bad, so don't take it personally. Some of the problem was repetition, not impoliteness. People continually demanding that I provide responses and then criticizing me for not taking orders -- I'm not going to live like that.

EddieP said...

The professor rules!

Thers said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

Yeah, talk about "Boogie Nights" -- so many great scenes in that movie. It's hard to take the whole thing in in one sitting.

wildaboutharrie said...

I wish the movie hadn't shown the "anotomy" (as it did in the end) that got him in the movies. It was unnecessary and insane.

reader_iam said...

Oh, there are so many terrific things to say about that movie. I saw it when it first came out in the theatre and a couple of times since on DVD. The screenplay was excellent; the direction and filming caught the time frame so well; and the performances! Well! In places it was hard to watch, but then, that was the point.

At the time, I was hopeful that its reception would encourage more movies of that type--meaning, adult-themed movies aimed at adults and produced in an adult way. I've mostly been disappointed, though.

As you've said before, I believe, most of the film output we get today and for lo, these many years, is really disappointing.

Re: Your new policy

I'm sorry that it's going to make more work for you, but I'm sure it will be worth it. Yours is a "destination blog" for a lot of us, and for compelling reasons. So, snaps for you and I hope we all cooperate.

Ann Althouse said...

Iam: It might actually be less work, actually. I always get all the posts as email, so I don't need to go looking for them. Leaving them up, especially when people are repeatedly nagging me to do something (like apologize for some bogus offense like quoting something that proves embarrassing) can be troubling.

Dogtown said...

For months, there have been 3 blogs that I hit first thing in the morning: Ann Althouse, Balloon Juice, and Protein Wisdom.

But Ann's petty focus this week on OSM/Pajamas in general, and the other Jeff Goldstein in particular, has given me the impression that she is mean-spirited in a very fundamental and personal fashion. Every time Ann gets criticized with any intelligent comments on her site, she implies that she is being "bullied", "intimidated", and refuses to be "cowed", when that is the least that was being directed her way. There is a certain aspect of Ann's personality that, despite her obvious brilliance, has the unfortunate need to grandstand as a know-it-all flexing her muscles so the blog bullies won't take her nerd-child lunch money away.

This is Ann's place, as she is always prepared to remind us. But her place is becoming a low-rent DailyKos with her fawning sycophants commenting on her taste, smarts, or whatever makes her feel all safe and adored.

Althouse is coming off my favorites list. It's a big blog world out there, and Ann's place is in a bad part of town.


XWL said...

As long as SquismTM comments are still allowed, I'm good.

(and lengthy parenthetical asides, that may or may not be on topic, cause that really is my commenting life's blood. Which reminds me, Boogie Nights was a damn good film, probably Paul Anderson's best film (not to be confused with Paul Anderson who doesn't have a best film))

and I disagree with wildaboutharrie, they had to show what made Dirk Diggler famous at some point, though instead of teasing about it for the whole film they could have been up front and gotten the reveal out of the way early.

And nothing says Thanksgiving more than a sprawling Altmanesque look at the life and times of the denizens of Porn Valley at the end of the filmed porn era.

(plus you have that great scene with Night Ranger playing in the background, woohoo!)

reader_iam said...

Just asked my husband if he's ever thought of me, or see me as, a "fawning sycophant" who says things because she wants to make people "feel all safe and adored" for God knows what purpose.


Then he gave me that little "As if. I wish." look that he gives me quite often ... and kept laughing.

I know he's thinking, "From your mouth to God's ear!"

Hah! Pray away, pardner!

reader_iam said...

Seen, damnit, seen. Has anybody else noticed that going to a laptop from a desktop has dramatically degraded their typing skills? And caused more typos?


Ann Althouse said...

Dogtown: The Pajamas people themselves are saying the same thing about themselves today. I guess they are being mean-spirited too. Get with it. The site is pathetic and they all know it. But it's damned touching of you to feel sorry for those guys.

KaneCitizen said...

...It's hard to take the whole thing in in one sitting...

Wait - Are you talking about the movie itself or about Dirk Diggler?

Finn Alexander Kristiansen said...

Good new policy.

I guess I will have to see Boogie Nights, since P.T. Anderson is my favorite director based on Magnoliaalone. But I am willing to wager that Magnolia is the deeper, more profound film, all about judgment and being set free from oppressors. The frogs, well, you have to remember when it last rained frogs, and what happened soon after that.

Indeed that frogfall immediately shot me back into ancient Egypt, as Pharaoh, with Moses standing before me saying, "Let my children go". I felt that moment. Magnolia itself is all about children being set free from oppressors, and judgment on those oppressors. Also, it has a message about how every little thing we say or do impacts other events and people, and those things that often look accidental or coincidental have a deep causal connection.

Like, whoda thunk that one comment about pus would ultimately lead to a new policy on Althouse and dogtown changing his reading habits? What do pus and dogtown's reading list have in common on their own? Nothing.

Our lives ripple and shake, sometimes to unknown ultimate effect.

Dale B said...

If I remember correctly, when I first started reading Althouse (two years ago??), comments were disabled. I think that Ann mentioned a few times that she'd occasionally receive email complaining about this policy. She said that in the past the comments had gotten pretty nasty and she eventually had to just turn them off.

In my house, you follow my rules. In your house I follow your rules. If I don't like your rules, I am free to not go to your house. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

I didn't particularily miss not having comments at Althouse as I generally don't read blog comments anyhow, partly because it takes a lot of time and partly because they are either me too or, at best, add nothing to the conversation. I read Althouse for her writing.

When Ann announced that she was enabling comments, I started to take a look now and then. What developed, fairly quickly, was a community of generally smart, funny, and intelligent commentary. It completely changed tone of Althouse, and for the better. Civilized blog commentary is pretty rare in my experience. Usually, the only place I see this sort of thing is on the lower traffic blogs, and seldom even there.

In the past couple weeks things have taken a turn for the worse, much worse. Lots of nasty comments, name calling, and general stupidity. It's like a bunch of newbies came in after reading Scott Adams
Rules of Internet Debate and decided they needed a bit of target practice. It reminds me of the bad old days of the USENET flame wars back in the eighties.

I hope Ann's new policy lets things calm down and we can get back to the civil discourse we used to see here. It is a very rare thing and it would be a shame to loose it.

Pooh said...

Prof. A.

I'm very glad to hear about the new policy. I have noticed a change for the worse in the past few weeks. (And I'm not the only one. I've seen comments on other blog's mentioning the melee...)

At the same time, and this is just me spitballing, but knowing your readership has changed may indicate a little more self-censorship in terms of presentation. I'm not suggesting any alteration to underlying messages or a change in tone, because they are what make you who you are, but rather making sure you aren't unintentionally feeding the larger swarm of trolls with slightly wayward language.

Leon H said...

Just a tip, Ann - when you talk about "swapping semen for pus" on your front page, you lose cred points when you call for higher standards of discourse in your comments.

Especially when you only start cracking down when you get caught in baldfaced misrepresentation.

Pooh said...


She didn't. Her original joke wasn't exactly funny, but it was well short of that particular bodily conflation. She was quoting a comment to make a point. Whether said point was either made or taken is an open question (actually, not its not, but still...)

XWL said...

Finn: regarding Magnolia, I found it more profound while watching than I did in retrospect, sometimes what seems deep at first glance is just hardcore navel gazing (but that film had lots of amazing performances, stunning monologues and dialogue, and a fantastic score (the songs formed the nucleus from which the film was arranged)). I'm sure we can agree to disagree though, with film preferences there is no right or wrong.

And a thought crossed my mind recently about this blog.

It's the Velvet Underground of blogs. Not the biggest, not always the best, but well written, inventive, artistic and incisive. Plus the other distinguishing feature about the Velvet Underground was that it was said of them that while they were together they didn't sell more than 10,000 records, but every record they sold lead to a band being form.

I think Prof. Althouse's style of discourse has influenced a lot of her audience and I notice many of the frequent commenters are also bloggers using with minima and blogging the same mix of personal, political, observational, etc.. Many of these people probably had blogs before they came here but I suspect that this blog and the community of commenters has shaped how they approach blogging and how they choose to write on their own blogs. At least that is the case for me.

(and any leftover lurkers, try and keep the brown-nose comments to yourself, not really very constructive)

Charlie Martin said...

Well, Pooh, she at one point demanded that I explain why I felt she'd mischaracterized and misquoted me, quite demandingly. I did, with links and details, she didn't respond.

I dunno. But after a while, I as a layman have to start to wonder if her characterizations of the legal arguments are as trustworthy as some of her other arguments have been.

Anonymous said...

Hey, there's a quote for your banner: "The Velvet Underground of Blogs!"

Ann Althouse said...

For folks who wonder what's the "baldfaced misrepresentation" Leon's referring to, check the update in this. The Balloon Juice guy believes I lied by writing about the Thanksgiving parade based on a press report. I wasn't watching the parade on TV!

XWL: Thanks. And I love the Velvet Underground.

Slocum said...

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, feminists within liberal groups would give you hell if you talked about women like that. Saying you're joking, ironic, or speaking a private language would only earn you the next slam.

Here's a suggestion for a future blog posting from Ann -- reconcile the sensitivity to sexist jokes with her status as fan of 'South Park'. In particular, she might talk about South Park's use of 'gay' as an all-purpose ironic epithet and whether or not Stan and Kyle would consider her complaints about sexism the 'gayest' topic that's appeared on the blog.

KCFleming said...

Comment sections can be overtaken by extremists pretty quickly, as occurred here. Verbose pedants and intellectual nihilists aim their best efforts at bullying those who disagree with them. Moderates quickly disengage, knowing that such interactions start with seeming civility, but soon decay into namecalling and seeing who can be the most over-the-top.

It's somewhat fascinating to watch fellow humans out-do each other in 6th-grade-level mean and gross-out verbal sparring, but like the Jerry Springer show, initial interest in the sordid turns quickly to horror.

The funniest posts (though unintentionally so) are the demands that Althouse reply with the answer that agrees with their view. Attempts at providing "proof" that an opinion is wrong would be even funnier, if it weren't posted a kajillion times, like some toddler tugging at Mom's hem demanding Mom-mom-mom-mom-mom-mom until you screeeam. And finally, the least intelligent take your post, insert a noun that describes you or your beliefs, and tries to "turn it around," but ends up being just a hackneyed "I know you are, but what am I" snore.


I'll have to admit that I am jealous of people who enjoyed Boogie Nights, just like I am jealous of people who like baseball. They seem to really have gotten something out of that film that I don't ken. It made me feel empty and sad, mostly, and I don't think I could watch it again. Since real life too often replicates that, I veer towards other genres.

Ann Althouse said...

Slocum: "South Park" is a brilliant satire, made by comic geniuses, who choose their targets well. Other folks just talking like the "South Park" kids? Not quite the same!

Pogo: Well put.

wildaboutharrie said...

XWL, we knew about the large endowment early on. We didn't need to see it.

The thing is, that movie should have resurrected Burt Reynold's career.

Leon H said...

Actually, Ann, the whole point was that you accused the people liveblogging the event of mocking someone's injury, which they clearly weren't. When one of the guys in question (Jeff Goldstein) attempted to correct you about this - well, your readers can see for themselves what happened. And thus we have this new policy!

Ann Althouse said...

But Leon, I didn't "accuse the people liveblogging the event of mocking someone's injury." I noted they were live-blogging when an accident occurred, recorded the series of jokes, and said "Yikes." Then Jeff (of Protein Wisdom) accused me of calling him a "MONSTER" and so on. That was a bizarre overreaction, which I'm now perceiving, along with your repeated comments, as a smear campaign intended to intimidate me and, by example, anyone else who dares to mock the Pajama entity.

A better response to my post would have been for them to append to the live-blog a statement that live-blogging is good, but there are risks, and afterwards when they saw the news reports, they felt bad about the jokes, and that they are in fact sympathetic to the woman and the girl who were injured.

The path Jeff chose, attacking me, hounding me on my blog and his, showed preoccupation with his own mosquito bite of injury. Every time he whined about how offended he was that I dared to criticize them, it drew attention, by contrast, to the failure to show any concern for the injured woman and girl.

Leon H said...

Well, Ann, just to show how little I actually care about Pajamas Media, I have still to this very minute not ever looked at their site, but I gather from Jeff and John that they've already taken the course of action you recommended.

However, your mischaracterization of the event sails on. I HAVE read your page, and you did not only say "Yikes." From the original post, by you:

Do our intrepid bloggers right themselves? Scroll at the first link to see how they carry on joking about the accident

Your first paragraph was a deliberate attempt to show that they were reacting insensitively, especially compared to the MSM - as especially seen in your title.

So, it's weird that you're now pretending that this whole controversy is about you saying "Yikes," because it's not.

It's even weirder when you accuse me, of all people, of being part of a smear and intimidation campaign on behalf of Pajamas Media.

By "weirder" I mean "laughable."

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Hoh said...

Yay to the new comments policy from me, too. I'm tired of all the people writing in to tell how much they don't like this blog. Okay then. Stop reading it, and get the heck out of the pool.

I like the comments section here, and while I'm interested in new people chiming in, I'm tired of the repetition and trollish comments. Makes it hard to wade through.

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.